Todd Anderson, 59, of Acampo, California (left), was arrested Wednesday
A California bar owner has been arrested for allegedly selling undercover agents fake COVID-19 vaccine cards.
Todd Anderson, 59, of Acampo, California, was arrested Wednesday faces charges for felony identity theft, and a misdemeanor for falsifying medical records after the sting by agents from California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).
Anderson, who owns and runs Old Corner Saloon in Clements, California, is also facing charges for possession of a loaded, unregistered firearm, San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office told USA TODAY.
Undercover ABC agents were able to buy eight fake vaccine cards, purchased for $20 each from the Old Corner Saloon, ‘on multiple occasions in April’ before shutting down the operation.
A laminating machine and 30 blank cards were confiscated by authorities.
This is the first time California's ABC has set up such a sting to catch people selling fraudulent COVID-19 vaccine cards.
But it's unlikely to be the last as vaccination cards become more crucial to the United States' efforts to reopen after COVID-19.
As of Monday, 31.6 percent of Americans are inoculated and a vaccinations rise, daily infections are beginning to fall off, with the average number of daily cases declining nearly 15 percent to fewer than 50,000 a day in the past week.
Authorities say they purchased the fake vaccine cards at the Old Corner Saloon in Clements, California, located about 35 miles southeast of Sacramento, ‘on multiple occasions in April’ before shutting down the operation.
Scams involving fake COVID-19 cards are on the rise globally. In the United States, the Better Business Bureau warned COVID-19 vaccine cards contain private information that scammers can use to make false documents.
But stalling vaccinations threaten to reverse that progress. Daily shots have plummeted to an average of fewer than 2.5 million a day, down from the peak of nearly 3.2 million on April 11.
Many remain hesitant about taking the vaccine - a stance that will become increasingly difficult as states focus on fully reopening and introduce the use of vaccine passports. New York City has already introduced The Excelsior Pass - which allows New Yorkers to prove their vaccinated status with an app, while Biden is said to be considering vaccine passports on a federal level.
These concerns have seen a rapid boon in the creation and sale of fake vaccine cards - with the FBI and other agencies warning people not to share photos of their cards on social media in case their shot numbers are stolen and sold.
Anderson does not appear to have a history of run-ins with the police aside from DUI arrests in California and Minnesota.
San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar issued a statement regarding Anderson's arrest:
Authorities say they purchased the fake vaccine cards at the Old Corner Saloon in Clements, California, located about 35 miles southeast of Sacramento, ‘on multiple occasions in April’ before shutting down the operation. A laminating machine and 30 blank cards were confiscated by authorities
Todd Anderson, 59, of Acampo, California, was arrested Wednesday. He faces charges for multiple crimes including felony identity theft and forging government documents, possession of a loaded, unregistered firearm, as well as a misdemeanor for falsifying medical records an, according to a statement from the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office
'It is disheartening to have members in our community show flagrant disregard for public in the midst of a pandemic.
'Distributing, falsifying or purchasing fake COVID-19 vaccine cards is against the law and endangers yourself and those around you.'
Scams involving fake COVID-19 cards are on the rise globally.
In the United States, the Better Business Bureau warned COVID-19 vaccine cards contain private information that scammers can use to make false documents.
The BBB urges the public not to share images with the documents, as the cards include personal information like names, birth dates and vaccination site.
The information allows scammers to duplicate the cards and create 'phony ones' to be sold on the black market.
The BBB is urging Americans to also check security settings on social media platforms to see what is being shared with whom before even posting their vaccine sticker for the world to see.
In Britain, A TikTok user shared video advertising selling false vaccination records for £5.
The account also linked to a Shopify page where those in Britain can purchase the cards. Vaccination cards are currently handed to Britons who receive the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine.
Back in the United States, authorities plans to file disciplinary action against the Old Corner Saloon, which could include the revocation of its liquor license.
The bar's website describes the establishment as 'a must-stop on the way to and return from their journeys' and 'a real tribute to society'
CDC GUIDELINES FOR AMERICANS FULLY VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19
On March 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines on what fully vaccinated American can and cannot do.
Officials say a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine, either two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shot or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson jab.
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